How do you go about pulling off a comedy about a subject like employee pension ripoffs by Wall Street, that is no laughing matter. According to Tower Heist director Brett Ratner, pulling off a Robin Hood get-even caper seems to be the way to go, as economic hard times cinema hits the theaters lately. Which is not exactly a blueprint to try out in the real world any time soon. But audiences are likely to be touched by the tremendous humor and heart of this zany crime spree, even when going to ridiculous extremes.
The servile working stiff turned furious head brainiac behind the heist in question is Josh Kovaks (Ben Stiller), humble manager of a Manhattan hi-rise luxury condominium overlooking Columbus Circle. When a scandal hits the headlines that accused Wall Street swindler Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) not only occupies the building’s penthouse but has also stolen the pension funds entrusted to him by the entire staff there, Kovaks’ inner rebel is unleashed. Fired following an angry confrontation with Shaw – who’s been placed under house arrest until trial by spunky when not drunk FBI agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) – Kovaks assembles the peeved building employees to plot revenge. And hopefully re-rob their money back.
The problem is that nobody in the goofy after-hours gang (Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Gabourey Sidibe) along with the building’s newly down and out, recently evicted Wall Street financier Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) has a clue about committing crime. Which is when Kovaks comes up with the dubious brainstorm to solicit the services of his neighbor and old nursery school kid adversary, shady career crook Slide (Eddie Murphy).
At this point Tower Heist enters beyond silly turf, from which the preposterous plot rarely comes up for air. Including a bit of bizarre business connected to late Hollywood celeb Steve McQueen’s vintage red Ferrari parked in robber baron Shaw’s living room.
That is, except when Eddie Murphy turns up far too little, to perpetrate his never disappointing, deliriously rude and irreverent antics on screen. Though one scene is a standout when Eddie nearly meets his match, as Gabourey’s lusty chambermaid makes seductive, unrequited moves on him.